Dreams disperse as I wake, clouds thinning to reveal cold sunshine. Nothing remains, save the barest fragments. Nothing.
No, nothing. Except that strange, hollow, lonely word, all on its own, so alone. But I am in the waking word world now, the dream is nothing, less than nothing.
This is not right.
In my bed, wide as the desert, cold as the arctic. Not my bed. Eyelids open, close: shuttered. The sun is in the room, burning my eyes. Not my room. Slowly, prise my eyes open. The sun is
not as bright. I can see the not-my-room now. White, white, white, white, white. Too much. It is everywhere: walls, floor, bed, chair. A face on a wall: stern, disapproving, imprisoned within a thin wooden frame. A stranger’s face, it glares at me.
‘How are we today?’ it asks.
We am scared. Night stole my room, day replaced it. But it is not mine! I want my room back: my bed, my walls, my
house. They have stolen it. Taken it from me. Gone.
Routine. Routine will save me. Wake, wash, eat. Routine, familiar, thoughtless, safe. I leave the not-my-room on auto-pilot, my ears full of their words; praise, questions, empty sounds. My mind full of
nothing. My mind empty, completely empty. I find a stranger in the bathroom. She is hiding in the mirror. She mimics me, mocking, raising a nail-less hand to her bald head as I try to tidy my own luscious blond
brown it was brown
blondes have more fun have him
Brown hair. She is a stranger to me, I do not know her hazel eyes nor the scar that rests above them. I do not even know how she got it
I DON’T KNOW HER!
‘Would you like a drink?’ they ask, soft, caring.
I would. The stranger in the mirror turns away. She wouldn’t.
fell you fell you fell you
They lead me through a world of white, sterile and empty. The blind leading the blind. They babbled ceaselessly. Sad cases, traumatic shock, amnesia. I didn’t listen.
‘You wait here while we make you a nice drink,’ they told me. ‘Coffee? Careful: we don’t want a repeat of last time, do we?’
Do we? Last time, no. Last time?
There wasn’t a last time, was there?
No! No, there was no last time.
I am not alone. People are in the room with me. Two, standing by the door. He
he is a stranger. In his hand is a bag. A woman . . . a woman is shouting. Hazel eyes, hazel hair. Long. I . . . I know
She is . . . not familiar. Another stranger. Yes. A familiar stranger with a scar over her eye.
‘What happened last time?’ they ask.
The man looks at
HER, anger in his eyes. He says something inaudible. She screams in silence. She begs him, begs him to stay, not to leave
her. Me. Her. No.
He goes, taking life, reason, with him.
‘I only left her for a moment. We found her staring at the burner,’ they answer. ‘Her hair was in the flames.’
He goes. Twenty-five years leap out of the window. She falls to the floor as I watch her. I try to comfort her, but she is a glass woman. Fragile, transparent. The slightest touch and she shatters, spreading shards across the floor.
‘Is that why you had her head shaved?’ they ask.
I look at her, this wreckage of a woman. My mouth falls open, and a scream leaps out.
no too long gone on too long
Must go, must run, must get out. Run, run, run. The white unfamiliar rooms fly past. I run, run, run.
The door is solid. Cold and blue. It stops me firmly, and slowly opens. There she stands, the stranger from the mirror. Hazel eyes glare out from under her shaved head.
‘No,’ she says. ‘No more. Know me, know what has happened: know yourself.’
She - not she - she holds out a hand to me, me, me.
‘It’s been too long,’ she says, ‘he’s gone. Know that he’s not coming back. Don’t let him take our life. It’s time to come back.’
Yes. It has been too long. She - I am right.
‘Welcome back,’ she says.
I reach out to take her hand, to take my life back.
‘It’s alright,’ they say, pushing something sharp, intruding into my arm, ‘just a sedative. Help you calm down.’
They are no longer calm.
no you remember you me us
the stranger explodes into a thousand colourful butterflies, dancing in the light. They flew past my eyes: red, blue, gold, violet. It was beautiful. I was over the moon - over the rainbow, way up high. They said it would be alright, the doctor would see me soon. I watched the butterflies, safe from the woman who tormented me.
I watched the butterflies dance, as they took me back to the not-my-room. Safe in my dreams.
And in my dreams: we dance and dance and dance. Finally, exhausted, we collapse on the bar for support. He smiles at me. I hold his hand, all the way home.